Stakeholder Perspectives on the Benefits and Challenges of Experiential Education in Geography and Tourism Studies
Associate Professor Chris Fullerton has devoted much of his academic career at Brock to enriching student learning in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies through experiential learning.
For example, since 2007-08, he has worked with 26 students who travelled with him to the Township of Algonquin, Ontario where they were introduced to and worked on a variety of rural land use planning and economic development projects in association with the community.
Chris has also coordinated the Department’s Honours Internship course and taught the Human Geography Field Course on numerous occasions, and has served for a short time as the Faculty Liaison for Brock’s Disney Internship Program. In his Geography courses, he has regularly incorporated local field trips and community-based projects with partners such as Niagara Region Public Health and the St. Catharines Transit Commission.
Real-world experience matters, says the 2019 recipient of a Chancellor’s Chair for Teaching Excellence.
“In my teaching I want my students to see the world, to experience the world and to become more sympathetic, empathetic and compassionate people,” Chris says. “I firmly believe that by taking the time to learn about places where contentious issues are unfolding, and about the lives of the people who live there, we will have a much better context by which to make decisions about the policies we support or do not support.”
His Chancellor’s Chair three-year project, “Stakeholder Perspectives on the Benefits and Challenges of Experiential Education in Geography and Tourism Studies,” takes a deep look into the department’s experiential learning opportunities and outcomes.
“Up to now, there has been little research into the question of how experiential education opportunities in Geography and Tourism Studies programs are best structured and delivered, as well as the types of benefits that accrue to different groups involved within the experiential teaching and learning process,” he says.
He’ll carry out surveys and interviews with current students, recent alumni, faculty members, and community partners to investigate how to maximize experiential learning opportunities for students and community partners.
By sharing the results of this research across the Department, the University, and with academic colleagues elsewhere, Chris hopes the project will contribute broadly to future experiential educational practices.
Ingrid Makus, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, says the project carefully investigates the roles and relationships of stakeholders in experiential learning within the context of Brock University’s Strategic Mandate Agreement.
“Chris continues to approach student learning with an open mind and a research-oriented focus that proposes to explore the meaning and impact of experiential learning, she says. “His project is thoughtful, engaging, well-organized and it promises to make significant contribution to pedagogy.”